Make these books your must-read picks this year.
School fundraisers constantly inspire others. Whether your mission is confined to a neighborhood or spans the globe, your role as someone raising money for a cause demands that you bring energy to get people excited about your mission.
Encouragers, however, need the inspiration of their own. While it can seem nearly impossible to recharge or steep yourself in activities that will ultimately support your personal growth and development, committing to growing in knowledge and insight can be a long-term investment in your fundraising work.
If you’re looking for creative ideas in business or simply are looking for a new paradigm for thinking about problem-solving, these must-reads will leave you challenged and excited about changing the way you do things.
Enjoy our current reading list for school fundraisers, and if reading particularly excites you, consider the “I Love to Read” Magic Show Big Event as you plan your fundraising strategy this year.
The Upside of Irrationality
by Dan Ariely
Dan Ariely masterfully takes principles of economics and applies them to our everyday behavior—behavior that is often anything but rational. Ariely, a behavioral economist, takes readers on a journey through everyday decisions we make in work and relationships, pointing out how these decisions do not show any strong devotion to being “rational human beings.” With relatable examples, including bad customer service at restaurants and the CEO bonus paradox, Ariely reminds us that we are not rational actors and adjusting accordingly can help us get more out of life.
Fundraisers can benefit from what this book teaches about consumer behavior and leverage these lessons in the philanthropic setting. For example, our desire for revenge on companies that disappoint us can shed light on the importance of donor engagement, encouraging you to ensure donors have a chance to get up close to the work they’re supporting. Philanthropy is a particularly counter-intuitive industry, and acquainting yourself with irrationality may help you make more sense of donor behavior.
by Gail Perry
Fundraising expertise doesn’t come in hardcover often, but when it does, you better believe it’s worth a read. Gail Perry is one of the top names to know when it comes to fundraising strategy, and this book dives into one of the most overlooked topics in the nonprofit world: board involvement.
Instead of always treating board members like your MVPs, Perry suggests you should be ready and willing to expect more from them. Since board membership suggests a deep passion for your mission or cause, these volunteers are some of your Prime candidates for increasing fundraising capacity and reaching new audiences.
School fundraisers can benefit from what this book teaches about engaging volunteers more meaningfully. Perry’s experience and insight will help you learn how to reframe fundraising and channel the passion of volunteer leadership into tangible results (like raising more money!).
How to Win Friends and Influence People
by Dale Carnegie
School fundraisers dealing with busy parents and eager students must be prepared to deal with many personalities while maintaining a favorable opinion of their own.
Carnegie’s guide to business success by building relationships will remain in the empirical literature. From one of America’s most well-known business tycoons, this book is the essential guide to becoming the most likable person in the room. With practical, anecdotal examples, Carnegie will help you manage conflict, navigate personalities, and provide the infectious energy that nonprofit and volunteer fundraising campaigns need.
Fundraisers routinely cite this as one of the most relevant reads for their work. Whether part of a school fundraising board or a major nonprofit, fundraisers find that this book helps them constructively leverage diverse donor personalities and create new relationships that are as fruitful in philanthropy as they are in business.
The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change
by Beth Kanter
If you’re not reading about developing a robust presence on social media, you’re missing out on a cost-efficient treasure trove of outreach and data collection. Beth Kanter, one of our favorite fundraising influencers, gives you a crash course in using social media platforms to make connections that matter and translate them into success for your cause.
School fundraisers should consider their social networks a powerful tool to engage a wider audience than traditional door-to-door or solicitation fundraising has ever been able to offer. Kanter’s accessible, common-sense style will be a refreshing read, while her insights will help you think strategically about bringing a product or brochure fundraiser into the digital space.
Check back for more fundraising reads throughout the year, and find some well-deserved personal inspiration that will positively impact your fundraising.
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Clay Boggess has been designing fundraising programs for schools and various nonprofit organizations throughout the US since 1999. He’s helped administrators, teachers, and outside support entities such as PTAs and PTOs raise millions of dollars. Clay is an owner and partner at Big Fundraising Ideas.